Growing up with a Depression-era father and a first-generation Italian mother, I definitely had the “waste not want not” maxim well-ingrained at an early age. Nothing edible was ever thrown away in our house and the end of the line for many items was either soup or stock. After that, vegetable food wastes (and eggshells and coffee grounds) had only one other destination–the compost bin (and then back into the garden to feed the next crop).
I still live this way as an adult (earning me the nickname of “Nifty Thrifty” among friends). I get a lot of satisfaction every time I find a secondary (or tertiary or…) use for something that would otherwise be refuse. (I’m also a big freecycler.)
But citrus is one of the few plants I don’t put in my compost because it takes too long to decompose. So what then, to do with the peels? Candied? No thanks, way too sweet for me. Infusing olive oil? I guess so, but it’s not really the taste I’m looking for in oil. I used to dry them for kindling for the fireplace (very flammable and great smell!) but I’m not burning wood anymore because of the air quality issues.
I’ve heard that orange oil is supposed to have beneficial properties for the skin, stimulating circulation and softening rough areas, so I decided to see if there wasn’t some topical aplication for these peels. I ground up a handful in the blender and tossed them into my bath tonight. Of course there was the great smell (that’s got to be some kind of aromatherapy) but it’s hard to say whether there was any real effect on my skin.
Bottom line: I still don’t think I’ve come up with the perfect use for these. Any good ideas out there?